WestJet Does Good Trade

with Nina Slawek

Lisa Barbieri, WestJet; Arend Roos, Vision Travel;
Patrice Bell, Brand USA.

New PLUS Seating

Sandra Lombardi, Red Tag Jocelyn Faucher, Carlson Wagonlit

It has to be said that WestJet does good trade. There's always an infectious enthusiasm from the owners of Canada's most profitable airline that attracts travel agents to their events.

Almost 400 agents were welcomed at Toronto's downtown Travel Trade Expo last Monday night and 250 at the Tuesday night event in Mississauga. No doubt the carrier's legendary generosity plays into the turnout but it was clear from the interactions that agents are also eager to meet and interact with the crew.

This year, the format was set up for that very purpose – WestJet flew in teams of insiders to get to know travel agents and understand their priorities.

“It's great for our teams to have face to face time with the trade," said Tim Croyle, V.P. of WestJet Vacations. “Internally, by exposing call centre staff or the groups department to travel agents, it galvanizes support for the sales team's efforts. Once you get to know people, you tend to work harder for them!"

It also gave agents exposure to some of the new initiatives at WestJet such as the new Travel Support Team.

According to Jane Clementino, Director of Agency Sales, “We continue to invest in the trade rather than targeting direct bookings. In late March we launched our new Travel Support Team at our call centre. Team members speak the language of agents – they understand GDS and have in-depth knowledge of our products and services." Clementino says. “Another area we are improving is groups for WestJet Vacations bookings. The process is being streamlined to make it easier for agents."

One of the insider types who is being groomed in the ways of the trade is WestJet's social media butterfly, Darren Hailes. He decided a novel way to introduce the new Plus seating with the empty middle seat was by interviewing this reporter “on the blue couch". The release date for the video has yet to be announced.

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